CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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DON’T QUIT, EVEN IF…

Revelation – Jesus is Coming Back!
 
I heard a question on TV yesterday as I was cleaning house that still sticks with me today. You’ve probably heard it, too. “What would you do in life if you knew you would not fail?” Mm. Over the years, God and I have set many goals for growing in Him, being with Him and learning to quickly obey. In that process, God invited me to join His work in ways that challenged my very soul. Saying yes to God, joining Him in His work to bring his created humans into relationship with Him is a daunting, exciting, suffering, exhilarating, loving task. It might take us all over the world or the work might make us stay in one spot.
 
Today’s passage is short and simple. Whatever God has asked us to be and do, be aware and alert for you have entered a battle with Satan, himself. But God wins. Jesus was sent to defeat this fallen angel once and for all. And He’ll do it again. “Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life, stay there believing.” We win in the end! For me THIS life with God is what I do because I know I will not fail! Jesus in me will not fail!
 
“Fear nothing!” Fear leads to doubt. Satan feeds our fear if we let him. We are promised that God’s love drives out fear. Stand on that promise!
 
“Stay on guard!” Suffering will come and go, but God doesn’t. He is always with us. His love, protection, grace and provision will see us through. God never fails and He never gives up on us!
 
“Christ-conquerors are safe from Devil-death.” Hallelujah! Praise God! Can I get a Yes, and Amen? It WILL be worth it all when we see Jesus!
 
Revelation 2 testedRevelation 2, The Message
To Smyrna
8 Write this to Smyrna, to the Angel of the church. The Beginning and Ending, the First and Final One, the Once Dead and Then Come Alive, speaks:
 
9 “I can see your pain and poverty—constant pain, dire poverty—but I also see your wealth. And I hear the lie in the claims of those who pretend to be good Jews, who in fact belong to Satan’s crowd.
 
10 “Fear nothing in the things you’re about to suffer—but stay on guard! Fear nothing! The Devil is about to throw you in jail for a time of testing—ten days. It won’t last forever.
 
Revelation 2 be faithful“Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you.
 
11 “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. Christ-conquerors are safe from Devil-death.”
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
I have had a lot of lofty goals in my past and have achieved most of them by Your grace and help. But what I really desire is what you desire for me. May Your glory be seen in me even today. Transform me. Transform Your church. Transform the world so the world will know You, too. Thank you for not giving up on me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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I SEE YOUR WORK… AND YOUR HEART

Revelation – Jesus is Coming Back!
 
It’s one of Satan’s best tools. He strikes when we are hard at work doing good. He works on our heart and tells us, “It’s all up to me, I must work harder.” “If I don’t do it, it won’t get down.” “I must volunteer, again, five years in a row, or nobody else will do it.” “I must make a list so I can organize every minute to make the most of every hour of this day.” “There are so many needs, I must answer.” We were created to be doers, but we were also created to love God FIRST and listen to what HE wants for us to do. This world will never run out of ways to be helped, but that doesn’t mean I am the one to do all of it. Let’s get “I” out of the equation.
 
Revelation 2 first loveIt is easy to say yes to as many ministry tasks as we can possibly fit in to one day and completely disregard God’s will for us. Why? We have audacious egos. Satan feeds on prideful egos. We feel we must do this or that because we feel good doing it. Did you get that? It makes US feel of value, important and even puffed up with pride.
 
Another weakness Satan camps on is our own self made busyness. If he can keep us busy in all kinds of tasks, he can then easily manipulate our thoughts with doing more and more while neglecting our time with God and time with our precious, immediate family members. At the end of the day, what have really accomplished? A list checked off or a “yoke fitting” with God, Himself?
 
Don’t you love it when a pastor talks mostly about his list that he has accomplished or about to accomplish without mentioning God and what he wants? (We are warned by James of saying we will do this or that without saying “if it is God’s will.”) I’ve seen it on social media. How sad that we feel we must justify ourselves in this manor. It comes from others’ demands on our time. So we feel we must justify by listing our hourly accomplishments.
 
The church at Ephesus was guilty of losing their first love, Jesus Christ. They were busy, tenancious church workers but lost perspective. They lost the “why” of the doing. We lose the “why” when we stop the being with God first. This happens quickly before we know what is happening and then we wonder why we are over our heads and feel overwhelmed in the work. Love God first, then love on His church who are humans trying to do the same. More people will be drawn to find and follow the Jesus in us…than in the number of tasks we are doing.
 
Revelation 2 repentThe Remedy:
Let’s BE with God first, ask what HE wants, then do it with all our heart, mind and soul. When He invites us to His work, He will fit us with His yoke to do what He asks that fits us perfectly without overloading us. By the way, He doesn’t even need us to do His work, but He invites us to it out a love for us, knowing we want to love Him back driving a desire to give back. We worship Him, then, by doing what He asks us to join Him in doing. We don’t get this until we first BE with God with open eyes and ears to listen. BE then do. We must not get that backwards.
 
Warning:
Never pray God bless our plans. Pray instead for the success of us accomplishing HIS will, plan and purpose. Many church boards work long hours in management and planning then offer, (seems foolish to even write this), a prayer at the end, asking God to bless what they have labored over and written down. Yikes!
 
What or Who is your first love? What is the first thought you have when you rise for the day?
 
I know that secular jobs have certain tasks that are required to get the job down in an orderly manner. First being with God before doing what is required still applies. Paul reminds us to work as doing it for God…this is worship of Him! We will please God when our first thoughts are love for Him before doing anything. AND others around you will get a glimpse of Him as you work.
 
Revelation 2, The Message
 
To Ephesus
2 Write this to Ephesus, to the Angel of the church. The One with Seven Stars in his right-fist grip, striding through the golden seven-lights’ circle, speaks:
 
Revelation 2 when Jesus comes to church2-3 “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out.
 
4-5 “But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall!
 
“Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.
 
6 “You do have this to your credit: You hate the Nicolaitan business. I hate it, too.
 
7 “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. I’m about to call each conqueror to dinner. I’m spreading a banquet of Tree-of-Life fruit, a supper plucked from God’s orchard.”
 
 
BE still and know that I am God.
BE still and know.
BE still.
BE.
 
In Jesus Name, Amen
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EVERY EYE WILL SEE

Revelation – Jesus Comes Back
 
We all see things from a different perspective. Five people can witness a car wreck and give police five different accounts of what they saw happen. It depends on where they were standing, how close they were to the scene, and how they felt when it happened. Police sort through and list what is repeated by all five and throw out what is not repeated or is merely opinion of what they think happened.
 
We are all guilty of adding a story to the story because we want life explained. We want life to be tidy, orderly and lived in ways we can understand. We want answers for every occurrence, feeling, situation, AND why people do what they do. Mm. But that really isn’t where our focus should be. Our focus should be only on Jesus Christ who saved us and is coming back. Our focus and security is in, as John states, “THE GOD WHO IS, THE GOD WHO WAS, AND THE GOD ABOUT TO ARRIVE.”
 
As we read the witness of John’s account, the revelation of the second coming Christ, we will not understand all the symbolic, poetic writing. We must focus on God and his Son as the point of reference in every word we read. It’s all about Jesus, the King, the Conqueror, God’s Son sent to save us, Our Savior and Our Lord. When we do we will find out more about who God is and what HE wants.
 
Try to imagine the beautiful and sometimes frightening prose of things to come but don’t get caught up and entangled in it. Remember the Voice who said to John, “Fear not”. This is the witness of Jesus and His return! May our worship of Him deepen, causing more and more of self to fade away. May God open our eyes with each word we read and open our minds with each thought we think as we call on God to grow us closer to Him through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
 
Revelation 1, The Message
 
His Eyes Pouring Fire-Blaze
4-7 I, John, am writing this to the seven churches in Asia province: All the best to you from The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive, and from the Seven Spirits assembled before his throne, and from Jesus Christ—Loyal Witness, Firstborn from the dead, Ruler of all earthly kings.
 
Revelation 1 riding on the clouds
Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us,
who blood-washed our sins from our lives,
Who made us a Kingdom, Priests for his Father,
forever—and yes, he’s on his way!
Riding the clouds, he’ll be seen by every eye,
those who mocked and killed him will see him,
People from all nations and all times
will tear their clothes in lament.
Oh, Yes.
 
Revelation 1 first and last8 The Master declares, “I’m A to Z. I’m The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive. I’m the Sovereign-Strong.”
 
9-17 I, John, with you all the way in the trial and the Kingdom and the passion of patience in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of God’s Word, the witness of Jesus. It was Sunday and I was in the Spirit, praying. I heard a loud voice behind me, trumpet-clear and piercing: “Write what you see into a book. Send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea.” I turned and saw the voice.
 
I saw a gold menorah
with seven branches,
And in the center, the Son of Man,
in a robe and gold breastplate,
hair a blizzard of white,
Eyes pouring fire-blaze,
both feet furnace-fired bronze,
His voice a cataract,
right hand holding the Seven Stars,
His mouth a sharp-biting sword,
his face a perigee sun.
 
I saw this and fainted dead at his feet. His right hand pulled me upright, his voice reassured me:
 
17-20 “Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever. See these keys in my hand? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates. Now write down everything you see: things that are, things about to be. The Seven Stars you saw in my right hand and the seven-branched gold menorah—do you want to know what’s behind them? The Seven Stars are the Angels of the seven churches; the menorah’s seven branches are the seven churches.”
 
What do we learn?
–Jesus loves us, died for us to take away all our sin.
–He made all who believe into a Kingdom for God.
–Jesus is on His way back to us!
–He will be seen by EVERY eye…not just those who believe in Him and follow Him. Even those who mock Jesus and others (same thing) will see Him “riding on the clouds.” There will be no doubt who HE is! That’s assuring!
–God always was, is and is to come. Forever.
–FEAR NOT! Jesus holds the keys to life. No matter what happens. Jesus IS Life.
–Jesus is in control. God knows the time. Fear not.
 
Revelation 1 every eye will see“It was on a Sunday…and I was praying…” What a statement that catches my breath this morning. Will Jesus find us praying, in His Spirit, when He comes?
 
Keeping looking up!
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
We read and look to You, praising You for loving us more than we can imagine. Thank you for Your Presence, by Your Holy Spirit, who never leaves us to ourselves and our own small thinking. May these words be our daily manna to chew on all day long. May these words give life to our souls. May these words deepen our love and devotion to you. Help me to fear not.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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THE BIG REVEAL!

Revelations – We win in the end
 
Revelation 1 big reveal
Some of my favorite shows involve taking something broken, tired looking and unusable to new heights. Chip and Johanna Gains were my favorite, creative couple to watch. They saw things in the rubble that we could not see. I think I like watching them demolish the old and build the new because it was a spiritual as well as physical journey for them. They were just as excited about “the big reveal” as the couple waiting to see what transformed. Their work was to the benefit of the couple. These couples received a new home of great beauty because of a their makeover. I shed tears for the recipients as they walk through their new home with happy and astonished oohs and ahs.
 
I also love the show where women and sometimes men are taken away for a few hours for a complete makeover of their appearance. (I think I need this, just sayin’.) A tired looking school teacher, a mom of many, a grandma who still works gives themselves over to professionals who enhance their God given beauty. They make them over to a more glamorous, less tired looking person. We love the big reveal. Yes, I shed a tear when the family takes off the masks to see their loved one’s makeover.
 
What will it be like when we come to the end of the journey and see Christ at the end with our heavenly makeover for eternity? What will that big reveal be like? I can only imagine as the song goes.
 
God gives John a glimpse of the big reveal of the last days. John uses images to explain how Jesus will come back to claim His own. Spoiler alert…Yes, we win in the end!
 
Revelation 1 revealThe Bible ends with a flourish: vision and song, doom and deliverance, terror and triumph. This is the work of the makeover in and through us as God’s church! The rush of color and sound, image and energy, leaves us reeling. But if we persist through the initial confusion and read on, we begin to pick up the rhythms, realize the connections and find ourselves enlisted as participants in a multidimensional act of Christian worship.
 
John of Patmos, a pastor of the late firsts century, has worship on his mind, is preeminently concerned with worship. The vision, which is The Revelation, comes to him while he is at worship on a certain Sunday on the Mediterranean island of Patmos. He is responsible for a circuit of churches on the mainland whose primary task is worship. Worship shapes the human community in response to the living God. If worship is neglected or perverted, our communities fall into chaos or under tyranny.
 
Our times are not propitious for worship. The times never are. The world is hostel to worship. The Devil HATES worship of God. As The Revelation makes clear, worship must be carried out under conditions decidedly uncongenial to it. Some Christians even get killed because they worship.
 
John’s Revelation is not easy reading. Besides being a pastor, John is a poet, fond of metaphor and symbol, image and allusion, passionate in his desire to bring us into the presence of Jesus believing and adoring. But the demands he makes on our intelligence and imagination are well rewarded, for in keeping company with John, our worship of God will almost certainly deepen in urgency and joy.
 
Are you ready for the makeover?
 
Are you excited for The Big Reveal?
 
Are you ready to worship?!
 
Here we go…
 
Revelation 1, The Message
 
Print1-2 A revealing of Jesus, the Messiah. God gave it to make plain to his servants what is about to happen. He published and delivered it by Angel to his servant John. And John told everything he saw: God’s Word— the witness of Jesus Christ!
 
3 How blessed the reader! How blessed the hearers and keepers of these oracle words, all the words written in this book!
 
Time is just about up.
 
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Speak to our hearts, minds and souls as we read, study and meditate on the revelations you gave to John. Do what you must in us so that we are brides ready for her groom, Jesus Christ. Transform me. Transform Your church. Transform the world. Keep us all focused on You as wait for Your return. I praise you for what You have done, are doing and will do in and through us.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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WHISTLEBLOWER

Jude – Whistle Blower
 
Jude text from show
Our spiritual communities are as susceptible to disease as our physical bodies. But it is easier to detect whatever is wrong in our stomachs and lungs than in our worship and witness. When our physical bodies are sick or damaged, the pain calls our attention to it, and we do something quick. But a dangerous, even deadly, virus in our spiritual communities can go undetected for a long time. As much as we need physicians for our bodies, we have even greater need for diagnosticians and healers of the spirit.
 
Jude’s letter to an early community of Christians is just such diagnosis. It is all the more necessary in that those believers apparently didn’t know anything was wrong, or at least not as desperately wrong as Jude points out.
 
There is far more, of course, to living in Christian community than protecting the faith against assault or subversion. Paranoia is as unhealthy spiritually as it is mentally. The primary Christian posture is, in Jude’s words, “keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ.” All the same, energetic watchfulness is required. Jude’s whistle-blowing has prevent many a disaster.
 
In our world today, God is still sending whistle blowing diagnosticians such as George Barna and others as modern day prophets to warn us of impending diseases in our communities such as complacency, moving away from absolute Truth, hearing only what we want to hear while avoiding repentance, growing and maturing in God’s ways.
 
Another well known leader in Christiandom has fallen because he thought he was above the accountability of the Christian community. The world looks on and jeers, “See, I told you…God’s not real.” Our sin is against God first. Others suffer for our sin. We must all be held accountable by a bevy of God-fearing, groups of people in our communities of believers and followers of Jesus. We pray God uses this tragedy to alert people to Truth again and uses it to His good purpose.
 
THE WORLD IS SEEKING THE TRUTH!
 
Interestingly enough, a new show calls our attention to those who stand for what is right. Whistleblower takes a thrilling look into the real-life David vs. Goliath stories of heroic people who put everything on the line in order to expose illegal and often dangerous wrongdoing when major corporations rip off U.S. taxpayers. Hosted by attorney Alex Ferrer, a former judge and police officer, each hour introduces cases in which ordinary people step up to do the extraordinary by risking their careers, their families and even their lives to ensure others are not harmed or killed by unchecked, unethical corporate greed.
 
Jude kids
Question to consider…Does this happen in the Christian community? YES it has and does. Humans are imperfect. We are easily distracted. We all need accountability. Christian communities are built and grow with this premise…to help each other stay focused on God and to grow in His ways while standing on His promises to help us.
 
We all need help in keeping our focus on the main thing…God…and keeping Him the main thing in all we think, say and do. Let us ask ourselves a hard question…Who do we worship? Our pastor, our worship leader, our small group leader, or God? No one is above God. No one is God. Only God is God. We are not. Pray for all pastors, leaders and volunteers. These are people satan works overtime to bring down to his level.
 
Let’s see what Jude has to say…
 
Jude
 
Jude love is on the way1-2 I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James, writing to those loved by God the Father, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ. Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!
 
Fight with All You Have in You
3-4 Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.
 
Lost Stars in Outer Space
5-7 I’m laying this out as clearly as I can, even though you once knew all this well enough and shouldn’t need reminding. Here it is in brief: The Master saved a people out of the land of Egypt. Later he destroyed those who defected. And you know the story of the angels who didn’t stick to their post, abandoning it for other, darker missions. But they are now chained and jailed in a black hole until the great Judgment Day. Sodom and Gomorrah, which went to sexual rack and ruin along with the surrounding cities that acted just like them, are another example. Burning and burning and never burning up, they serve still as a stock warning.
 
8 This is exactly the same program of these latest infiltrators: dirty sex, rule and rulers thrown out, glory dragged in the mud.
 
9-11 The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn’t have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, “No you don’t. God will take care of you!” But these people sneer at anything they can’t understand, and by doing whatever they feel like doing—living by animal instinct only—they participate in their own destruction. I’m fed up with them! They’ve gone down Cain’s road; they’ve been sucked into Balaam’s error by greed; they’re canceled out in Korah’s rebellion.
 
12-13 These people are warts on your love feasts as you worship and eat together. They’re giving you a black eye—carousing shamelessly, grabbing anything that isn’t nailed down. They’re—
 
Puffs of smoke pushed by gusts of wind;
late autumn trees stripped clean of leaf and fruit,
Doubly dead, pulled up by the roots;
wild ocean waves leaving nothing on the beach
but the foam of their shame;
Lost stars in outer space
on their way to the black hole.
 
14-16 Enoch, the seventh after Adam, prophesied of them: “Look! The Master comes with thousands of holy angels to bring judgment against them all, convicting each person of every defiling act of shameless sacrilege, of every dirty word they have spewed of their pious filth.” These are the “grumpers,” the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead.
 
Jude Only God
17-19 But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: “In the last days there will be people who don’t take these things seriously anymore. They’ll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts.” These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There’s nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!
 
20-21 But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!
 
22-23 Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.
 
24-25 And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes.
 
Yes! And Amen!
 
Lord, help us.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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PERSISTENT, TENACIOUS TRUTH LIVING

John – God and Love
 
How will others know God who have never experienced His love? How will they get a glimpse of His glory and authentic grace upon grace? How will they know the Truth of the depth of His love that knows no limits? Words alone will not tell them of the depths of God’s love. John tells us to “model the good”. Who is the model? Jesus Christs, the One and Only Son of God who laid down His perfect life so that we are free to love, like God loves, with no limits or conditions.
 
We love because He first loved us. John through Jesus taught us that tenaciously. When we lay down our own desires and control of our time to help another person in need we are “modeling the good”. We are also loving God back when we do these acts of selfless love. “When you do it to the least of these by brothers and sisters, you are doing it for Me”, says Jesus. (Matthew 25:40) This is tenaciously and persistently living the Truth of God’s love. Love God. Love Others like He loves us. Revolutionary and bears repeating. Every. Day.
 
Our last segment of John’s letters…
3 John, The Message
 
3 John walk in Truth1-4 The Pastor, to my good friend Gaius: How truly I love you! We’re the best of friends, and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health—that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul! I was most happy when some friends arrived and brought the news that you persist in following the way of Truth. Nothing could make me happier than getting reports that my children continue diligently in the way of Truth!
Model the Good
5-8 Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They’ve made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.
 
9-10 Earlier I wrote something along this line to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves being in charge, denigrates my counsel. If I come, you can be sure I’ll hold him to account for spreading vicious rumors about us.
 
As if that weren’t bad enough, he not only refuses hospitality to traveling Christians but tries to stop others from welcoming them. Worse yet, instead of inviting them in he throws them out.
 
11 Friend, don’t go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God’s work. The person who does evil falsifies God, doesn’t know the first thing about God.
 
12 Everyone has a good word for Demetrius—the Truth itself stands up for Demetrius! We concur, and you know we don’t hand out endorsements lightly.
 
13-14 I have a lot more things to tell you, but I’d rather not use pen and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk.
 
Peace to you. The friends here say hello. Greet our friends there by name.
 
Think about it …
John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, is modeling the good while show and telling others how to model the good. As believers, it is up to us to show the love of God in tangible, touchable ways to anyone God puts in our line of vision. Ask God for help in seeing the lost, broken, hurting and needy. He will provide ways for us to love by helping. When we do we “model the good” expressed by Jesus Christ. Bonus? We are loving God back when we love each other.
 
3 John love of GodFLASHBACK to Matthew 25, The Message
31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
 
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
 
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
 
37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
 
3 John how much we love.png
Dear Heavenly Father,
Open our eyes to the hurting and helpless who think there is no hope. Use us to love you back by loving on them. Provide ways for us to love well, to love strong and appropriately with no strings attached for ourselves. Help us to live Your Truth persistently and tenaciously every day of our lives here while we wait for you to return.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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NOTHING HAS CHANGED

John – God and Love

“New rule!”, the opposing team who is losing shouts out. The rules change constantly to get the upper hand on winning. Finally, a fight ensues over the rules and the point of the game is lost in the battle. Mm.

2 John loveNo so with God and His commandments. “Nothing has changed”, John reminds us. Love God. Love Each Other. Love means following God’s commands to love. Why? Because He loves us, right now, before cleaning up, before thinking about His will and purpose for us, before we think about Him…He loves us. He loved us first. He loves us still. He will love us always. Nothing has changed. Beware of those who might tell you something different or try to be god in this world of constant change.

2 John, The Message

1-2 My dear congregation, I, your pastor, love you in very truth. And I’m not alone—everyone who knows the Truth that has taken up permanent residence in us loves you.

3 Let grace, mercy, and peace be with us in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, Son of the Father!

4-6 I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father. But permit me a reminder, friends, and this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other. Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you heard, and nothing has changed.

2 John tell the TruthDon’t Walk Out on God
7 There are a lot of smooth-talking charlatans loose in the world who refuse to believe that Jesus Christ was truly human, a flesh-and-blood human being. Give them their true title: Deceiver! Antichrist!

8-9 And be very careful around them so you don’t lose out on what we’ve worked so diligently in together; I want you to get every reward you have coming to you. Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son.

10-11 If anyone shows up who doesn’t hold to this teaching, don’t invite him in and give him the run of the place. That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner.

12-13 I have a lot more things to tell you, but I’d rather not use paper and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk. That will be far more satisfying to both you and me. Everyone here in your sister congregation sends greetings.

Think about it….

2 John walk in loveLove God with all our hearts, minds and souls…even our bodies that He created. Love Others like He loves us. Revolutionary thought. Yes, nothing has changed with God. Nothing will separate from His love. No new rules or game changers. God is love. God loves you and I. Nothing has changed.

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Thank you for being the unchanging, unstoppable, unrestrained, limitless God you are! Thank you for your consistent love for us. Help us to love each other like you love us. Help us to think of ways to show that love even today.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.

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